|Carter-Ruck still stupid, latest news suggests.
||[Oct. 15th, 2009|09:29 pm]
Work conditions remain impossible, claim satirists.
Anonymous comment spam:
2011-04-11 08:05 from 172.21.4.172
Now I don't understand what the injunction was for, if it wasn't to prevent reporting of a discussion in the House of Commons.
I got the impression the injunction was in place to prevent reporting of an active court case, and was poorly worded (as, at that time, there was no parlimentary question tabled).
It was to prevent reporting of a leaked document. It seems that The Guardian had the cunning idea of asking an MP to table a question about the allegations arising from that document and then asking Carter-Ruck if the injunction would stop them from reporting the MP's question. C-R initially said that they thought it would... and a spectacular shitstorm ensued, at which point C-R conceded and said no, it doesn't cover reporting of Parliament after all.
What C-R are now doing - and with my legal hat on I have some sympathy - is pointing out that Parliament's own rules say that Parliamentary Privilege should not be used to comment on court cases that are actively ongoing. This rule exists because (a) it's not fair if only one side can get an MP to stand up and evade, via Parliamentary Privilege, the ban on media commentary on active court cases, and (b) even if both sides can, it's not a good idea to fight cases via shouting matches in the House of Commons.
Having said that, I still think that The Guardian has done a huge service by highlighting the development of 'Super-Injunctions' that prevent reporting not just of an issue but of the existence of that issue or the injunction itself.
Shouldn't there be a standard clause in these injunctions which states "nothing herein shall be applied in a way that's contrary to English law"?
Well, that should be implicit - the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty means that no court has the power to overrule statute law as made by Parliament.
The problem here is, it seems, a conflict of law. There are laws that limit the reporting of ongoing court cases. There are also laws that provide that statements made in Parliament are privileged from contempt of court. So what do you do when an MP stands up and in effect comments on an ongoing court case?
I think the current situation is very unsatisfactory, and C-R have done nothing to enhance their reputation, but it's not a simple right/wrong issue at stake.
It seems to me (as a non-expert) that C-R's main product is reputation, and the prevention of damage to it. So the damage to C-R's reputation, and the collateral damage to their client's reputation, is doubly ironic.
Reading the link, it seems quite reasonable to me (if longwinded). The injunction was poorly worded, but wasn't meant to prevent HoP questions being reported - and it was changed to allow reporting of the question within 24 hours of the matter being brought up. Just that the Guardian, having asked 3 days before the Question, decided that rather than wait for the injunction to be changed the next day, they'd report online and headline it the next morning - a good way of hyping the issue no doubt...
What it is supposed to prevent is reporting on an active court case, which is not unusual at all... Maybe I'm missing something else?